Faith should not end in Sto. Niño devotion
TOMORROW is the feast of the Sto. Niño. Due to the Filipinos’ great love for the Holy Child, the Holy Father years ago granted the feast uniquely only for the Philippine Church.
Rich and poor, young and old alike maintain a strong, almost fanatical, devotion to the Holy Child. Fiestas and colorful processions are held in his honor.
** * Big and mini statues of the Sto. Niño are dressed endearingly in various forms and attires. There’s a Sto. Niño clad as a fireman or a policeman (obviously not with hand reaching out for a tong!). There is even a Sto. Niño clothed in green, representing the green buck (US dollars) Filipinos dream of having, especially now that the dollar rate is rising.
** * No doubt, such forms of devotions are really helpful for piety—and the tourism industry!—but our faith should not end there. Rather our faith and devotions must be translated into our everyday conduct, living and dealings. Just as the Child Jesus grew up and mature, so should our faith.
* ** There’s an amusing story about a pet parrot trained by pious nuns to pray. By pulling the right foot, it would recite the “Our Father”; when pulling the left, it would pray “Hail Mary.”
** * One day a bishop paid the nuns a visit. To impress their distinguished guest, the nuns bragged of their pious bird and gamely prodded him to pull the bird’s feet successively. The bishop eagerly obliged as instructed. He was amazed how the parrot promptly responded, praying the “Our Father,” then the “Hail Mary.”
** * The bishop wondered what it would pray if he pulled both feet at the same time. Slowly, he grabbed both and the bird got off-balanced and angrily swore, “Lang hiya ka, mahuhulog ako!” (“Darn you, I’ll fall down!”). Poor bishop, he thought the bird would pray “Glory be to the Father.”
* ** We Filipinos are a religious and prayerful people. But, like that parrot, when we’re in a fix or in dire need of money, we forget God’s commands against stealing, overpricing projects, or trafficking in illegal drugs to make a fast buck.
This piety split from daily conduct and dealings is also shown in traffic situations where road courtesy is unknown to many drivers, yet they are devotees to the Sto. Niño as shown in mini images displayed in front of the vehicles’ windshields.
*** Further, we are a country which is vastly Christian but we are one of the highest when it comes to graft and corruption, crimes of violence and nowadays extrajudicial killings.
** * While popular devotions are certainly part of Christian faith, the greater challenge is to apply Christ’s teachings of love, honesty, justice, forgiveness in every social, political, economic sphere of life. Otherwise, the Lord will indict us as he did the hypocrites during his time, saying: “This people honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me.”
** * FAMILY TV MASS — aired on IBC 13 (channel 15 cable) at 7-8 a.m. every Sunday; also on international GMA Pinoy TV. Sponsor: ANDOK’S LITSON CORP., West Ave. QC. Mass celebrant: Rev. Fr. Lawrence Llona, SVD.
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